The Eye of Mongombo #6 and 7 (1991)

My wife Liisa and I moved to Seattle in 1990 from Portland, shortly after she got a job offer to work at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Reserach Center. Since I had no specific job prospects in Portland at the time – I was mainly working shit temp jobs and scrambling to find work with my Poli Sci degree – it was an easy choice to move up here. Not having any special skills aside from writing long essays on Chilean military coups and reading comic books, I decided on a lark to apply for a job with Fantagraphics Books, a small independent publisher of such famed series as The Complete Crumb Comics, Love & Rockets and the Comics Journal. At the time, Fantagraphics was also publishing a lighter companion to the always-controversial Comics Journal, called Amazing Heroes. Kim Thompson, co-owner of Fantagraphics along with his partner Gary Groth, called me in for an interview and hired me to assistant edit AH.

At that time Fantagraphics was publishing a half-dozen or so comics and collections a month. Their collection of titles reflected the various interests of Kim and Gary. Gary was the high-brow fan who helped shepard the publishing of European imports and fancy underground collections. Kim, however, had a more mixed taste in comics. He always seemed to like the higher brow stuff, but he also helped push such series as Critters (a funny animal anthology), Fission Chicken and the Eye of Mongombo. (by the way, my perceptions might be completely wrong on this. But what the hell, misperceptions are the lifeblood of the blogosphere)

I last read Mongombo back when it first came out in the late ’80s and remember loving its manic sense of self and style. For years, the comic loving section of my thick skull had wanted to revisit the world of writer/artist Doug Gray and enjoy his manic energy. I stumbled over these two issues at January’s Emerald City Comicon and thus my comic loving brain got excited.


Maybe their time has passed, or maybe Gray had lost his enthusiasm by the time these two issues came out, but silly as they are, these comics just don’t have that spark. They’re fun. Issue 6 has a funny chase scene and 7 has a funny scene with a narcicisstic body builder type, but I missed the manic energy I expected from this series. As I put down #7, I began wondering just what happened to Doug Gray? This series finished with #7, three issues before its promised conclusion. Did Gray go to Hollywood to pursue animation, or just drop out of drawing comics altogether? Does he do commercial art? Is it possible he’s another schlub working for some anonymous corporation like I am?


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